It could have been so much worse. That was my reaction after watching a video of the motorcyclist’s fatal, high-speed collision with a vehicle making a U-turn on Coastal Highway at 59th Street. This video was taken from OceanCityLive.com’s camera atop a hotel. I decided after watching it not to post the video to our social media channels because it’s difficult to watch as the collision and subsequent fallout for the deceased motorist was horrific.
While one life lost is too much, there was a lot of luck involved in Tuesday’s incident. For one, the highway looked more like a winter night than a peak summer evening as far as traffic volume. If it was more congested, as would be expected, the biker would have most likely not been able to reach the high rate of speed he did. However, there could have been more injuries if he was as reckless as he seemed prior to the accident, which sent him flying about 30 feet and nearly striking pedestrians walking southbound on the sidewalk in front of the Bank of Ocean City branch.
The video also confirms Ocean City police were not pursuing the motorcyclist in a high-speed fashion. Some social media experts commented on our stories this week the police were actively pursuing him in an aggressive fashion. That’s untrue. There were several blocks of distance between the motorcyclist and the next northbound vehicle, presumably a police cruiser. Additionally, a witness motorist reported police were not engaged in a fast pursuit of the biker. Local musician George Grimm, or Randy Jamz, was the last person to see Brian Douglas II alive. He was stopped at the traffic light at 56th Street when the former southern Maryland resident and father of two young kids pulled up next to him on Coastal Highway.
“He pulled up next to me and was revving the motorcycle so loud I had to put my windows up, and I’m a Harley guy,” he said. “Then he looks over at me grinning from ear to ear and points at me like he knows me. I can’t believe how fast the guy took off after that. The OCPD officer turned off his lights and followed, but I don’t think the officer ever even went over the speed limit. A couple of seconds later it was all over. I was the last face that poor guy ever saw on this earth.”
The $1 million negligence lawsuit filed against the Town of Ocean City last month on behalf of a Texas woman who died on the beach in 2017 seems destined for dismissal. Aside from the legal issues with it, I see at least two major problems with the lawsuit.
First, there was alcohol involved in this incident. The facts as known are a 30-year-old Texas woman walked to the beach around 2 a.m. alone after a night of drinking and either dug herself or fell in a hole about four feet deep and six feet long. She was discovered around 6:30 a.m. buried in the sand. The assumption was she was deep enough in the hole the beach cleaning equipment driver did not see her in the early morning darkness and the vibrations from the heavy sand resulted in the hole quickly filling in while she slept. The medical examiner ruled the cause of death as asphyxiation.
Secondly, the complaint blatantly maintains the woman died through no fault of her own. It solely blames her death on the town’s beach cleaners and the wording indicates a belief the city’s crews intentionally ran over the woman while she slept on the beach.
“… the aforesaid conduct was the proximate cause of the decedent Ashley O’Connor’s horrific and painful death without any negligence or fault on the part of the decedent contributing hereto,” the suit reads.
It seems clear this was an unfortunate accident compounded by a poor decision to sleep in a deep hole on the beach after drinking. It seems obvious the court system will not find this negligence claim to be valid, but Ocean City will still need to spend some dollars to defend itself.
Efforts to install bike racks at street-ends near the beach north of the Boardwalk are worthwhile. It’s a common scene throughout Ocean City to see bikes locked up to utility poles, street signs and dune fencing on oceanside blocks.
On busy summer days with parking scare near the beach, riding bikes is a popular and convenient choice for many. On a recent summer day near 56th Street, I counted 14 bikes locked up to a dune fence. It was interesting to see parts of the dune fence nearby had been broken, presumably from users being too rough with their locks or even worse thieves finding a way around the lock.
There appears to be a sentiment to try and address this common situation. A pilot program, planned through the Common Street initiative, has been proposed to install bike racks at the street ends at 28th Street, 67th Street and 120th Street. These are obvious choices as there are large populations on the bayside of these streets who find biking to be an alternative to driving or walking.
It seems like a no brainer to me to address a small problem without spending much money.